Goodwin's High End

 

Lighting System Design and Light Control

A well designed and implemented lighting plan will greatly enhance the aesthetics and usability of the room. A qualified lighting designer (or sometimes interior designer or architect) will develop a plan that:

  • Provides an appropriate level of illumination for the tasks and lifestyle activities that will be performed in the room. For instance, cooking, reading, and entertaining all require different illumination levels.
  • Allows the different lighting fixtures to be combined at varying intensities to create a variety of lighting "scenes" to create different visual effects for each activity in the room.
  • Flatters the room. Decorative fixtures such as wall sconces, table lamps, and chandeliers perform their lighting function by having fixtures that are themselves beautiful. Other fixtures, such as dramatic wall washers and spotlights, have beautiful lighting effects, while the fixtures themselves are usually de-emphasized.

Often a decorator's or architect's initial light plan will have unintended detrimental side effects on the performance of your audio and/or video system. By working as a team with a lighting designer, we can prevent or mitigate the following potential problems:

  • Some lighting fixtures and controllers generate large amounts of electrical noise which can degrade the performance of the audio and/or video system.
  • Some lamps (i.e. the actual light bulbs) and controllers generate mechanical noise when in use. This buzzing will deleteriously raise the acoustic noise floor in the room.
  • Some fixtures resonate or reflect the sound from your speakers in undesirable ways.
  • Some fixtures, particularly recessed "cans," can defeat the soundproofing of the room.

We have a variety of tools and techniques to fight these side effects. For example, we can replace low performance dimmers with high-performance dimmers or variacs that don't generate as much noise. We can use smaller wattage lamps and/or 3-way lamps at full intensity to replace dimmed higher-wattage lamps. We can consider the acoustic properties of the fixtures when selecting them, and we can position them where they won't be acoustically detrimental. We can re-soundproof recessed cans to partially restore the acoustic isolation of the room

For a home theater, there may be a few additional design considerations. Task lighting near the equipment location and at the primary seating location will facilitate using the equipment and remote controls. If occupants will be leaving a darkened theater, some low wattage strip lighting might prevent them from tripping, particularly if risers have elevated some of the seats. In addition some, but definitely not all, video displays can benefit from a carefully defined low level of ambient light as this may prevent eye strain.

Many home theaters, particularly those that use projection, benefit from complete light control. Front projection in particular requires an absolutely dark room; if you can't see your hand in front of your face, then it's dark enough! Usually all windows need, at a minimum, residential-quality light blocking shades, plus darkening curtains. Or, commercial-quality complete light-blocking motorized shades will guarantee that the theater can be used at any time of day. If desired, these shades, the lights, the screen, and all the audio and video components can be integrated into a comprehensive simple-to-use remote control system. Also, the equipment rack should be designed to so that light emitted from the components themselves will be shielded from view during a film presentation.

A good lighting design will enhance any room. And for a home theater proper, light control is vital.


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